Ephraim Hawley House
The Ephraim Hawley House is a
historic Colonial American wooden post-and-beam saltbox farm housebuilt in 1683 by Ephraim Hawley (1659-1690). The house was built on land granted to Ephraim's father, Captain Joseph Hawley, in 1673 and was commonly called Captain's Farm. The house, a private residence, is situated on the east side of Nichols Avenue (Route 108), on the south side of Mischa Hill just north of HawleyLane in the Nichols section of the town of Trumbull, Connecticutin New England.
Joan Oppenheim completed a research report on the house while studying
architectureat Yale Universityin the 1950s. She concluded, after examining the structure, researching land records, probate records and the Hawleyrecord, that the house was built in December 1683 by FarmerEphraim Hawley when he married Sarah Welles, granddaughter of Connecticut ColonyGovernor Thomas Welles. The date of construction was not only based upon architectural details of the house, but also upon comparisons with other homes of the period, facts given to her by the Curtiss family, who owned the house at the time, and information from the Hawley record. Oppenheim also stated in her report that the dating of the house compared with that of S.S. on file at the School of Fine Arts at Yale. Ephraim Hawley was made a freeman by the court of the Connecticut Colony at Hartford in May 1687. To be made a freeman at this time, one had to have an estate or own property in his name. At the time of Ephraim's death in 1690, the house lands and meadow were appraised at 352 pounds by the Fairfield County Probate Court. Ephraim died intestate, without a will, and according to old English Lawprevailing at the time, title to the dwelling house, or real property, went to the oldest living male heir. Ephraim's oldest living male relative was Robert Hawley. Sarah's dowerywas returned to her out of her son Daniel's portion of lands and she received all of the moveable estate.
*The house began as a one and one-half story
cottageor Cape Cod style girt house with a massive central stone chimney. A partial lean-to addition with a long steep pitched roof was added onto the rear of the house in February 1787 shortly after the American Revolutionconcluded, giving the house its saltboxshape. The remaining lean-to was added to the rear of the house in the 1840s, preserving the original riven oak clapboard sidingin the atticthat was created. The front roof was raised to a full story by long time tenant Schaghticoke Indian Truman Mauwee or Truman Bradleybefore the American Civil War. Bradley paid the heirs of Sarah Hawley-Nichols $450 for the house in 1881 and a year later sold the renovated house to neighbor Clarissa Curtis for $525.
*The first growth
white oak post-and-beamframe consists of heavy 8" (inches) by 10" girts, 8" by 8" platesand 8" by 10" splayed posts. The raftersare 8" by 8" and taper to 6" by 6" and the floor joistare 6" by 6" spaced 20" apart. The roof sheathing and flooringis vertically quarter sawn1" thick oak boards with random widths between 12" and 30". The flooring is laid directly over 1/2" thick split oak boards. The mortise-and-tenon joints are held by wooden pins and the flooring is nailed with large hand wrought iron nails. The hand riven oak clapboardsiding is nailed directly to the oak studs with large flat rose-headed nails.
*The first floor of the house was built at ground level with a very modest fieldstone foundation. There is a partial dirt
cellarlocated on the south side of the house. The stone chimneyis laid up dry and the three flues are lined with clay. A brick beehive bake oven is built into the rear wall of the kitchen fireplaceand its small opening is spanned by a wrought iron lintel. There is a small tinder box built into the left wall of the kitchen firebox. The fireplace opening is 4'4" in height by 6'10" in width and is spanned by the original 10" by 10" oak lintelwhich rests on oak beams. The side walls of the kitchen firebox are roughly dressed granite. There is evidence that a lug pole was used for hanging cooking pots.
*The ceilings and walls on the first floor are clam shell
plasteron riven oak lath. The ceiling heights are between 6' 2" and 7' 2" on the first floor. The rear door entrance is 5' 3" in height. The upstairs ceiling height is 6'. The oak window frames have dimensions of 2'4" wide by 3'10" in height. The interior doorways are 28" wide by 5'11" in height and the interior partitions are made of 1 1/2" thick vertical oak boards. The vertical feather-edge beaded poplar panellingalternates in width from 13" and 15".
The Farm Highway
December 7 1696, the Farm Highway, present-day Nichols Avenue Connecticut Route 108in Trumbull, was completed and officially laid out by the Stratford selectmen to the south side of Mischa Hill. The farm highway was 12 rods wide, or 198 feet, until it came to where Broadbridge Brook runs off the south side of Mischa Hill, at Zachariah Curtiss, his land, and at Captain's Farm. Captain's Farm was named after Ephraim's father Captain Joseph Hawley. Broadbridge Brook runs off Mischa Hill just west of the present-day intersection of Route 108 and the Merritt Parkwayand flows southwesterly to Broadbridge Avenue in Stratford. In October 1725, when the Assembly of the Connecticut Colony approved the Parish of Unity, they referred to the Farm Highway as Nichol's Farm's Road. Nichols Avenue in Trumbull is considered by some to be the third oldest documented highwayin Connecticut after the Mohegan Road, Connecticut Route 32in Norwichin 1670 and the King's Highway, or Post Road Route 1in 1673 [ [http://www.kurumi.com/roads/ct/ct-chrono.html Krumi.com] ] .
*Abiah Hawley, Ephraim and Sarah's seventeen year old daughter, married William Wolcott of
East Windsor, Connecticuton November 5, 1707. Their son William married Abigail Abbot and produced a daughter named Abigail Wolcott who married Oliver Ellsworthin 1772. Ellsworth was made the third Chief Justice of the United States(1796-1800) by President George Washington. Ellsworth was also a member of the Continental Congressduring the American Revolution. He and Roger Shermanadvanced the Connecticut Compromise, prepared the first draft of the United States Constitutionand is credited by some to have preserved the name the United StatesGovernment. He was also a U.S. Senatorfrom CT (1789-96). Their son William Wolcott Ellsworth, served in U.S. Congressfrom (1829-1834) and was Governor of Connecticutfrom (1838-1842). Abiah Hawley died on June 16, 1716 at the age of 26.
Gideon Hawley, Ephraim and Sarah's grandson, graduated from Yale Universityin 1749 and worked under Jonathan Edwards and became a missionary to the IroquoisIndians.
*Ebenezer Hawley, Ephraim and Sarah's great grandson through Daniel, built a colonial mansion when he married in 1765. His large home and
gristmillwere located just east of the Pequannock River in present day Trumbull Center near his grandfather Daniel's farm. He died in 1767, at the age of thirty, leaving behind a 1,135 pound mortgage held by John Hancockof Boston. This large home also served as a tavernduring the Revolutionary Warand in 1883 served as Trumbull's town hall. This is also where Mary Silliman, wife of captured American General Gold Selleck Silliman, fled from the British burning Fairfield, Connecticutduring the American Revolutionary War. While staying at the tavern she gave birth to her son, Benjamin Silliman, who would become Yale University's first science professor and also the first Scientistto distill petroleum [http://www.trumbullhistory.org/written/eliakim.shtml] . The house was sold by the town government in 1961 was dismantled and moved to Darien, CT to be used as a private residence.
*Gideon's grandson's Captain
David Hawleyand Major Aaron Hawley fought in the American Revolutionary War. In 1776, Captain David Hawley served under Benedict Arnoldat the Battle of Valcour Islandon Lake Champlain. This battle is considered by some to be the first battle of the newly formed United States Navy. David Hawley is also credited with capturing twenty British ships during the war for American Independence. He is most famous for leading a raid across Long Island Soundon November 4, 1779 to capture ToryJudge Thomas Jones to exchange for captured General Gold Selleck Sillimanwho had been taken prisoner out of his Fairfield, Connecticuthome by the British in May 1779. Major Aaron Hawley served as Brigade Major under General Gold Selleck Silliman.
Robert Hawley, grandson of Captain John, grand nephew of Ephraim and Sarah, owned the house until 1787. He was named Captain of the North Stratford Train Band in 1773 and at a special meeting held there on November 10 1777, he was appointed to a committee to provide immediately all those necessaries for the Continental soldiers. On March 12, 1778, the parish of North Stratford made donations of provisions for those residents serving in the southern army stationed at Valley Forgeunder General George Washington. Of the fifteen men serving there from North Stratford, three were descendants of Captain John Hawley; Abraham, Nathan and their slave Nero.
Nero Hawley, a free negro man, was a slaveowned by the Hawley's and earned his freedom after fighting in the American Revolution.
* Eliakim Hawley married his cousin Sally Sara Hawley in 1787 and received the renovated house as a wedding gift from his father. Sally Sara Hawley lived in the house for 60 years until her death in 1847 and was the last Hawley to live in and own the house.
The house today
Over the last 324 years, the appearance of the house has evolved as each family has left their mark expanding or adapting the house to accommodate changing ideas about space, function, comfort, privacy, cleanliness and fashion. Many original architectural details remain to include; dirt cellar, post and beam frame, chimney with beehive oven, quarter-sawn flooring, plaster walls and ceilings, window frames and the original riven oak clapboard siding. The house may be one of only four
First Periodhomes still standing in New Englandthat retain their original riven oak clapboard siding in place.
Nichols Farms Historic District
*William Cothren, "History of Ancient Woodbury Connecticut", Bronson Brothers, Waterbury, 1854
*Frederick Haines Curtiss, "A Genealogy of the Curtiss Family", Rockwell and Churchill Press, Boston, 1903
*William Richard Cutter, "New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial", Lewis Historical Publishing, NY, 1914
*Franklin Bowditch Dexter, "Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College", Henry Holt & Co., New York, 1896
*Elias Sill Hawley, "The Hawley Record", Press of E. H. Hutchinson & Co., Buffalo, NY, 1890
*Reverend Samuel Orcutt, "History of the Old Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport Connecticut, Fairfield County Historical Society, 1886
*Joan Oppenheim, "Yale University History of Art-53a-Research Report", New Haven, CT, 1950
*Nancy O. Phillips, "Town Records of Derby, Connecticut 1655-1710", Sarah Riggs Humphreys Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Derby, 1901
*Connecticut General Assembly, "The Public records of the Connecticut Colony 1636-1776", Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard, 1885
*Albert Mack Sterling, "The Sterling Genealogy", Grafton Press, NY, 1909
* [http://www.hawleysociety.org/ The Society of the Hawley Family, Inc.]
* [http://www.archiplanet.org/wiki/Ephraim_Hawley_House%2C_Trumbull%2C_Connecticut Ephraim Hawley House Archiplanet]
* [http://www.ctgenweb.org/county/cofairfield/pages/probate/vol_1-6/ctfairfi_prob.v4p101.html Fairfield County Probate Abstract]
* [http://www.trumbullhistory.org/freedomtrail/ Trumbull Historical Society Nero Hawley]
* [http://www.kurumi.com/roads/ct/ct-chrono.html Connecticut Highway Timeline]
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